A huge fire has destroyed the first floor and roof of Ali’s Kebab and Pizza takeaway in North Street. No one was injured but the blaze took fire fighters over seven hours to bring under control using six appliances from Wellington and Taunton and a hydraulic platform.
It is believed that the fire started in the first floor apartment above Ali’s Kebab and Pizza. One of the co-owners, Juozas Kovalskis, explained what happened: “I was working in the shop last night at about 10.30 and I smelt smoke. I called my partner, Dede Akbulut, and the fire service. I don’t really know what happened. The upstairs rooms are used for storage and no-one was living there. This is just terrible as we only opened on 11 May. I don’t know what we will do now.”
The fire has caused extensive damage, not only to the building itself but also to adjacent properties. Two residents, Nory and Ben Bernal who live next door to the shop in a first-floor apartment, were still unable to gain access to their property several hours after the fire had been extinguished.
Nory said, “I was at work as a Carer at Chelston Park last night. A friend had called me during the night to tell me about the fire but I was shocked when I got here this morning. We don’t know when we will be allowed to go back inside. All our possessions are there – including our clothes, passports and my husband’s computer.”
Her husband, Ben who works as a Housekeeper at Chelston Gardens, was at home when the fire broke out. He said, “I was on the computer at about 10.40 last night when I heard banging on the door downstairs. I looked out of the window and saw smoke and fire engines in the street. I opened the door downstairs and the firemen told me to leave. We’ve been out here all night but we have friends in North Street who have helped us. I don’t know how much damage has been done inside but you can see that the roof has been badly burned.”
Police said that no-one would be allowed inside either the building itself or the two properties alongside until fire investigation officers had examined them and the building structure had been assessed but it is believed that they had all been extensively damaged by heat and from water. The fire itself spread into the roof voids of at least one of the neighbouring buildings and completely destroyed the roof above the kebab shop.
Report and photos: Gill Paltridge